Wednesday, April 27, 2016


A witness to gangland slayings in a drug dealing turf war escapes to find sanctuary with 2 innocent bystanders only to be kidnapped & causing the bystanders to come to the rescue. This may sound like a normal action flick but the bystanders are portrayed by the comedy team of Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele and the witness is a cute & cuddly little kitten. When these 2 white-washed black nerds pretend to be tough mother f*cking gangstas, hilarity ensues as the film pokes fun at pop culture & ethnic stereotypes while providing lots of slo-mo shoot 'em up action. This outrageous premise plays out better than one might initially think. Actually, Keanu Reeves was so impressed with the trailer that he got involved in the post production voicing of the kitten, who was inexplicably named Keanu. Stay through the credits for one last scene.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "Shark Tank & Tectonic" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mother's Day

Director Garry Marshall is back with his "Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts in another ensemble cast featuring another holiday (like his "New Year's Eve" & "Valentine's Day" movies). This is a very funny & touching film looking at the many complicated sides of motherhood. Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, & Jason Sudeikis have major roles but look for more familiar faces popping up. This intricate story deals with issues of jealousy, step-mothers, searching for biological mothers, gay & interracial relationships, and single parenting. It is formula but it's still entertaining. Look for a blooper reel running during the credits. If you are still searching for a gift for your mom, this may be a film for her.

Alien gives it 3 "generations coming together" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sing Street

Director/writer John Carney ("Once", "Begin Again") takes us on fun journey back in time to Dublin, 1985, where 15-year-old Connor's life is set in turmoil by financial & domestic troubles at home. While struggling to adjust to a new school environment, he is smitten by a pretty girl named Raphina who becomes his muse. His college dropout, stoner, older brother becomes his musical mentor. If you love 80's music & their music videos, check out this terrific comedy drama coming of age story with a nod to "Back to the Future". With great music & good acting, this warm & charming film about youth searching for love & a better life is a winner for the romantic at heart.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "brown shoes & drive it like you stole it" stars out of 4.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Green Room

Accidentally witnessing a horrific crime, a punk rock band is held against their will in the green room of a seedy remote Oregon roadhouse run by some ruthless neo nazis.  This intense gritty thriller is brutally violent as the scared captives try to escape against almost insurmountable odds. This well-made realistic feeling film with a well contrived story line will keep you on the edge of your seat as you ponder how can they get out & who will survive. Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, & Patrick Stewart have lead roles. This small dark movie is not for those squeamish about vicious dogs or blood & guts. 

Alien gives it 3 "red laces" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

It's "Frozen" meets "The Hobbit" meets "Snow White & the Huntsman" sans Kristen Stewart in this prequel that explains the rise of Eric the Huntsman (Chris Helmsworth) & relates the story of Queen Ravenna's (Charlize Theron) younger sister Freya's (Emily Blunt) development into the evil Ice Queen. Then, throw into the mix some Fantastic Beasts and a Romeo&Julliette-esque romance. Driven by high action & dazzling special effects, it's entertaining but not great. Contractually obligated, Jessica Chastain, as Sara the Huntswoman, is added to the big name cast. Being a fairytale & a prequel, it's not too hard to predict where the storyline is headed. Although, they may need another film just to explain a plausible transformation to fit into the original film. The talents of some great actors are wasted here in this dark fairytale not meant for young children.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "bull headed tar monkeys" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Jungle Book (3D)

Director Jon Favreau's latest live action/CGI re-imagining of Disney's 1967 animated film is much darker with a greater sense of peril due to the realistic rendering of the CGI critters & treacherous landscapes. Both of these Disney productions are based on Rudyard Kipling's stories of Mowgli, the orphaned boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India. Newcomer Neel Sethi is a natural as the man-cub at the center of the action. Bill Murray & Christopher Walken are great voice choices for Baloo & King Louie respectfully. Their personalities really shine through their performances. King Louie here feels more like King Kong. Parental warning for those with small kiddos: the sense of danger & fright may be too scary for them because not all of these creatures are warm & cuddly. After all, jungle animals are wild & part of the hunter-prey ecosystem. The special effects are spectacular. Stay for the credits to see more 3D  effects with the film characters literally leaping off the pages.

Alien gives it 3 "Peace Rock, the Law of the Jungle & the Red Flower" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Wha' up?  The crew at Calvin's Barbershop is back with some of your favorite faces as well as some new faces (Ice Cube, Common, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Eve, Anthony Anderson, & Nicki Minaj). It's more fun & laughs as guys & girls banter in this local south side of Chicago barbershop/beauty salon but then things become more serious when increase crime & gangbanger shootings impact on their once safe neighborhood. Many personal & political issues are explored in this urban comedy/drama with a message to take back the streets. Stay for the credits if you want to view one last gag.

Alien gives it 3 "community cease fire" stars out of 4.                                                                       

Thursday, April 07, 2016


It's "Black Hat" meets Jason Bourne meets "Frankenstein" in a James Bond lite caper when a dead CIA agent's memories are desperately implanted in a brain-damaged criminal in hopes of completing a mission to stop a possible world domination plot. Kevin Costner plays Jericho Stewart, a vicious incarcerated man with no moral code who inherits the skills sets & fragmented memories of the deceased operative. Gary Oldman is the head of CIA London. Tommy Lee Jones is Dr. Franks (was his real family name shortened?) in this far fetched lab rat experiment that predictably goes awry only to steer towards that text book conclusion. Ryan Reynolds & Gal Gadot are husband & wife with key roles in this suspense action drama with a side of redemption. If you sit back & buy the premise, you may enjoy this cookie cutter plot.

Alien gives it 3 "Dutchman's deadline" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Boss

It's "Get Hard" meets "Joy" when Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy), foster child turned 47th richest woman in America, loses everything because of an insider trading scandal. Hilarity ensues as Darnell makes her business world comeback through rebranding her own more aggressive profit making Girl Scout troop. Alien enjoyed the physical comedy more than the mean spirited jokes armed with f-bombs & sexual related gags. McCarthy produces, writes, & stars with her husband, Ben Falcone, producing, writing, & directing plus playing a cameo role. Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, & Kathy Bates have supporting but underutilized roles so the load seems a little to heavy for McCarthy to tow alone. The film pokes fun at climbing to the top, single moms, & parenting in very non politically correct ways. Stay for the blooper reel during the credits.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "golden phoenix" stars out of 4.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Hardcore Henry

Illya Naishuller writes, directs, & produces this unique first-person GoPro perspective film that's parkour "Robocop" meets "Avatar" meets Magneto with near nonstop action & plenty of blood & carnage. Henry is a human cyborg with a wiped memory who must fight for his life battling an army of bad guys while on a mission to rescue his kidnapped wife. Sharito Copley stars as the many faces of Jimmy, Henry's lone assistant in this shoot 'em up, blow 'em up spectacle. Amongst the utter violence lies a sly sense of humor in the character portrayals & musical selections. Gamers may love this look & feel, but for the motion-sickness challenged, it may be more than they can stomach. It is senseless violence told in an unusual style bound to polarize audiences.  You'll either love it or hate it. Better rush to the theaters if you want to see this Russian production on the big screen because it isn't likely to be there for long but it may become a cult classic.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "dizzying disorientation" stars out of 4.

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